Algeria, Morocco prep for CAN
By Abdou Tajeddine in Rustenburg and Hassan Benmehdi in Casablanca for Magharebia – 14/01/13
Optimism is in the air at the Greens' training camp in Rustenburg, South Africa. However, days ahead of the 2013 African Cup of Nations kick-off on January 19th, the Algerian national side remain cautious.
Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic had been pessimistic about his team's chances at CAN but he recently changed his position. Speaking Saturday (January12th) after the friendly nil draw against CAN hosts South Africa, he said he was proud of his players' performance. They will live up to fans' expectations, he added. The Algerian community in South Africa is already proud.
Les Fennecs are met with cheers from fans wherever they go, just as they were during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
The Greens face a challenge, however, due to the questionable readiness of Rafik Halliche, Djamel Mesbah, Mehdi Lacen and Liassine Cadamuro.
Players Sofiane Feghouli, Foued Kadir, El Arbi Hilal Soudani and Islam Slimani can hopefully write a new chapter of achievement for Algerian football.
"We can actually win the African title," Sochaux midfielder Ryad Boudebouz told Magharebia.
"Our level and capabilities allow us to do that," Club Africain's Khaled Lemmouchia agreed. "Our will and fighting spirit will be our weapons to shine."
Real Sociedad's Liassine Cadamuro is playing in the African competition for the first time.
"I want to help win it," he said. "I've sustained many injuries since I joined the Algerian team, but I hope that the opportunity won't be missed this time," he told Magharebia.
Algeria kick off their CAN campaign with a match against Tunisia on January 22nd.
"The match against Tunisia will be exciting and tough," Djamel Mesbah said. "We'll try to win it."
According to Foued Kadir, "The Tunisia game will be the most important and the key for qualification to the next round."
A victory against Tunisia will "make the mission against Togo and Ivory Coast easier", Kadir added.
Morocco promise results
The Atlas Lions are ready for a win.
The national team hope to put their bitter failures in continental competitions behind them and restore Moroccan football to its former glory.
"The players are alert and their morale is good," manager Rachid Taoussi said. "These two factors are allowing us to work with a sense of team spirit."
Moroccan international Younes Belhinda described the "great" atmosphere in the Moroccan camp: "We're working hard during our training sessions and we're ready to play a good CAN."
Said Baddou, who trains the keepers, said that Nadir Lamyaghri, Anas Zniti and Khalid Askri were well aware of the importance of this African competition:
"I am personally confident and our three goalkeepers are armed with fighting spirit and ambition," the trainer said.
But the decision not to call internationals Houssine Kharja, Adil Taarabt and Christian Bassir from the squad will have serious consequences, sports analyst Badr Drissi told Magharebia.
Young Moroccan football fans are hoping for impressive results from the 29th CAN.
"We have a good manager and good players, and most importantly, we're in a group that we're capable of winning, so we're best placed to get through to the final stages," Casablanca student Adil Lamnarai said.
Mostafa, a car park attendant, said: "They're good and I feel sure they won't let us down."
Morocco are in Group A with Angola, Cape Verde and South Africa.
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